Planting seeds for the future

ACN gather insights from industry experts on the topic of IT talent shortage and discovers what can be done to address the issue

Tags: Cisco Systems IncorporatedSkills DevelopmentUnited Arab Emirateshelp AG (www.helpag.com/)
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Planting seeds for the future According to findings produced by INSEAD Business School’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index, which was co-authored by Cisco, the Middle East was short of nearly 48,000 skilled networking employees in 2012. That figure grew to over 100,000 by 2015.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  December 12, 2016

Attracting IT talent will not only be an critical exercise for enterprises aiming to succeed in 2017, but retaining that talent and continuing to foster their development, could prove to be a deciding factor for success, for years to come.

While the statement in itself might be an obvious one, what many may fail to realise is that there is a global shortage of skilled IT professionals.

Coupled with the sheer number of digital technologies on the horizon, and the numerous organisations pushing to become digitised, and the need for information technology expertise becomes an absolute necessity.

According to findings produced by INSEAD Business School’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index, which was co-authored by Cisco, the Middle East was short of nearly 48,000 skilled networking employees in 2012. That figure grew to over 100,000 by 2015.

Other findings from the report showed than the IT skill gap in the UAE was increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 32%, which by the end of 2015, had increased to 45%, while Saudi Arabia’s figure stood at 78%. Meanwhile, the global shortage of skilled IP networking professionals reached roughly 1.2 million in 2015.

“The use of Internet technologies is growing exponentially and research shows that ICT and broadband adoption can help promote economic success in the Middle East. However, acquiring new technologies is not enough,” explains Mike Weston, vice president, Cisco Middle East.

“Countries must build their human capacity to take full advantage of ICT. Network-powered innovation is increasing the demand for trained ICT professionals, yet limited access to ICT skills education is creating a persistent and growing networking skills gap across the region, where the demand is outpacing the supply.”

Commenting on the challenges of local market, Weston points out that what is quickly turning into a key differentiator is the ability to retain talent.

“Questions no longer revolve just around remuneration, but on how people focused the organisations are. Organisations with on-going training programs, internship opportunities, certification acknowledgements are now as important to job seekers in today’s IT environment,” explains the vice president.

There is also a viewpoint within Cisco that favours public-private collaborations and how they offer a deeper perspective into how the ICT field operates, and the benefits of ICT careers.

Collaboration with education agencies and government authorities, together with industry, can help ensure accurate information about ICT is available to interested parties.

“In addition to the impact the gender gap may have on projected skills shortages, the lack of women entering the ICT sector currently represents loss of talent for industry and loss of opportunity for females entering the job market. This pattern of under-representation of women in ICT is set to continue if more is not done to educate, support and encourage girls and their role models,” adds Weston.

Committed to the idea of developing of its own talent internally, Cisco established an IT skills and career building program back in 1997.

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